Good news about the Philippines abounds. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently raised its 2016 growth forecast for the country to 6.8 percent GDP growth from 6.4 percent—as it trimmed its economic projections (from 5.7 percent to 5.6 percent) for the 45 countries that it considers as “developing Asia.”
The bank cited the country’s increased public and private investment and the unexpectedly strong third-quarter performance for the upward revision. They even revised the 2017 growth forecast—from 6.2 percent to 6.4 percent—amid expectations that the Duterte administration’s infrastructure buildup and the robustness of consumer demand will continue.
The World Bank followed suit, upgrading its 2016 outlook for the Philippines also to 6.8 percent. The multilateral agency listed high investor and consumer confidence as the main reason for the upgrade and, like ADB, expects our economy to keep on growing to even outperform others in the coming years. Without doubt, these positive projections will raise our own people’s morale.
Between the first quarter of 1998 and third quarter of 2016, our economy had grown for 71 consecutive quarters at an average 5.1 percent per quarter. And between the first quarter of 2012 and third quarter of 2016, our economy grew for 18 consecutive quarters at an average rate of 6.5 percent. Such growth clearly explains why the October 2016 Grant Thornton International Business Report found that ours was the world’s third most optimistic economy in the world—with an 84-percent optimism rate among Philippine businesses, much higher than the global average of 42 percent.
Meanwhile, the government is whipping itself up to shape and improving the country’s ease of doing business. Recently, the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) launched its second Repeal Day, where 25 government agencies repealed up to 1,062 outdated or redundant department orders, regulations, issuances and memorandum circulars.
Walter van Hattum, European Union Delegation to the Philippines head of trade, recently said he expects the Philippines will become an upper-middle economy by 2021 if more reforms are pursued and the right policies continue to be implemented.
The strong economic performance also points to a buoyant labor market as unemployment is at its lowest in roughly a decade, according to the government’s October 2016 Labor Force Survey (LFS).
In the midst of growing protectionism and the emergence populist leadership in both the United States and Western Europe, these positive signals about the Philippines provide a measure of hope and optimism during the holiday season.